Moles, voles, and shrews are often confused with each other. They are all small burrowing creatures, and are common to this area.

a mole

The mole is a small, grey-colored, eyeless animal that spends almost all of its life below ground. They have large “hands” that they use for digging. Moles eat grubs and worms that live in the ground. They are active all year but in winter or during periods of dry weather they go very deep, sometimes as much as ten feet. They have a tendency to heave up soil where their tunnels meander through grassy areas.

a vole

Voles are more brown in color than moles, a little larger,  and have visible eyes. Being rodents (moles and shrews are not), they have a habit of chewing the bark on small trees to dine on the nutrient-rich cambium layer. They tunnel as well, but are happy to use tunnels constructed by moles.

a shrew

Shrews are not very harmful, being predators of insects – and to a lesser extent – moles, voles, and mice. Often they are found sharing tunnels with the others or taking them over after dining on the previous homeowners. They are very small and grey in color and lack eyes, but appear more “athletic” than moles. Interestingly, they, along with the platypus, have the rare gift of being a¬†venomous mammal. Shrews deliver poison with grooves in their teeth, not spurs on their hind legs like the platypus. This explains their ability to kill voles, which are much larger.

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